The FCC Has Officially Voted To Kill Net Neutrality. Here's What Could Happen Next
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to eliminate net neutrality rules. In a 3-2 vote the FCC got rid of Obama-era net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers such as Comcast or Verizon, from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone services.
“I dissent. I dissent from this fiercely-spun, legally-lightweight, consumer-harming, corporate-enabling Destroying Internet Freedom Order,” Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in her opening remarks during the FCC meeting.
Fellow Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel voiced a similar sentiment, saying “This decision puts the Federal Communications Commission on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.”
However, Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, believes that the change will promote economic growth and competition between broadband providers, as well as provide consumers with more service options from broadband providers.
“The main complaint the consumers have about the internet is not and has never been that their internet providers are blocking access to content,” Pai said according to a report from the New York Times. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”
Still, this does not mean that net neutrality is dead. As the ACLU notes, the fight for net neutrality is now in the hands of Congress, who will try and use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to undo the winning vote. The CRA allows Congress to reverse regulatory actions within 60 legislative days of their enactment.
If the CRA is unsuccessful then both state and local leaders can attempt the challenge the change through legislation and other resolutions.
Companies are not likely to enact drastic changes so early on, considering net neutrality is such a controversial topic at the moment. But in time, they could discriminate on the type of data circulating the Internet by either slowing it down or blocking it entirely. Telecoms could also extract fees from the sites and services that want to deliver data to user, an example being if a company wanted to charge Netflix more leading to a higher fee for membership.